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The UK honours system

The UK honours system is one of the oldest in the world.  It has evolved over 650 years and today recognises people who have:

  • made achievements in public life

  • committed themselves to serving and helping Britain

They’ll usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do.

King Investiture Holyroodhouse June 2023.jpg

The King at a Holyroodhouse Investiture ceremony

The honours system covers the whole of the UK, and all honours are approved by HM The King. Anyone can nominate anyone else for an honour. Find out more about

  • how the honours system works here

  • how to nominate someone for an honour here

Whether someone gets an honour - and the honour they get - is decided by an honours committee. The committee’s recommendations go to the Prime Minister and then to the King, who awards the honour.  


The Banffshire Lieutenancy team can give advice on how any member of the public can nominate a friend or colleague for an honour, offering advice on the completion of the forms and supporting the honours nomination when referred back to the Lord-Lieutenant for comment.

The Prince of Wales (then Duke of Cambridge) and Sir Andy Murray

The most well-known honours are probably MBEs, OBEs and CBEs, but there are a whole range of other honours that The King awards in addition to these, such as The Order of Merit, or The Order of St Michael and St George.  


The King (as Prince of Wales) and former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Very Rev Lorna Hood

Honours recipients are announced twice a year, once in the New Year's Honours List, and once on The King's official birthday. Recipients receive their awards from The King or another Member of the Royal Family at an Investiture ceremony.

Watch a short video about Investitures from The Royal Family website here.

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